speech in 2018, Dr. Nordhaus pegged the “optimal” carbon price — that is, the shared economic burden caused by each ton of emissions — at $43 in 2020. Gernot Wagner, a climate economist at Columbia Business School, called it a “woeful underestimate of the true cost” — noting that the prize committee’s home country already taxed carbon at $120 per ton.

another tack. Carbon prices, they reasoned, tend to hit lower-income people hardest. Even if the proceeds funded rebates to taxpayers, as many proponents recommended, similar promises by supporters of trade liberalization — that people whose jobs went offshore would get help finding new ones in a faster-growing economy — proved illusory. Besides, without government investment in low-carbon infrastructure, many people would have no alternative to continued carbon use.

“You’re saying, ‘Things are going to cost more, but we aren’t going to give you help to live with that transition,’” said Rhiana Gunn-Wright, director of climate policy at the left-leaning Roosevelt Institute and an architect of the Green New Deal. “Gas prices can go up, but the fact is, most people are locked into how much they have to travel each day.”

At the same time, the cost of technologies like solar panels and batteries for electric vehicles — in part because of huge investments by the Chinese government — was dropping within the range that would allow them to be deployed at scale.

For Ryan Kellogg, an energy economist who worked as an analyst for the oil giant BP before getting his Ph.D., that was a key realization. Leaving an economics department for the public policy school at the University of Chicago, and working with an interdisciplinary consortium including climate scientists, impressed on him two things: that fossil fuels needed to be phased out much faster than previously thought, and that it could be done at lower cost.

Just in the utility sector, for example, Dr. Kellogg recently found that carbon taxes aren’t meaningfully more efficient than subsidies or clean electricity standards in driving a full transition to wind and solar power. And as more essential devices can be powered by batteries, affordable electricity becomes paramount.

more useful for policymakers than broad, top-down economic models.

begun to look at the relationship between extreme weather and federal revenue. But because it’s still not clear how best to do that, other institutions are trying as well.

Carter Price, a mathematician at the nonprofit RAND Corporation, is working on a budget model that will incorporate the latest social science research, as well as climate science, to inform long-term policy decisions.

“This is a space where having more models early on would be better,” Dr. Price said. “Rather than someone has an assumption, that assumption goes into a model, nobody questions it and, 10 years later, we realize that assumption is pretty powerful and maybe not right.”

The larger lesson is that modern climate policy is a complex endeavor that calls for large, interdisciplinary teams — which is not historically how the economics field has operated.

“You can only do so much by writing things down on a single sheet of paper from your office at Yale,” said Dr. Kopp, of Rutgers. “That’s not how science gets done. That’s how a lot of economics gets done. But you run into limits.”

View Source

>>> Don’t Miss Today’s BEST Amazon Deals! <<<<

Biden Has ‘Only Bad Options’ for Bringing Down Oil Prices

HOUSTON — When President Biden meets Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in Saudi Arabia, he will be following in the footsteps of presidents like Jimmy Carter, who flew to Tehran in 1977 to exchange toasts with the shah of Iran on New Year’s Eve.

Like the prince, the shah was an unelected monarch with a tarnished human rights record. But Mr. Carter was obliged to celebrate with him for a cause that was of great concern to people back home: cheaper gasoline and secure oil supplies.

As Mr. Carter and other presidents learned, Mr. Biden has precious few tools to bring down costs at the pump, especially when Russia, one of the world’s largest energy producers, has started an unprovoked war against a smaller neighbor. In Mr. Carter’s time, oil supplies that Western countries needed were threatened by revolutions in the Middle East.

During the 2020 campaign, Mr. Biden pledged to turn Saudi Arabia into a “pariah” for the assassination of a prominent dissident, Jamal Khashoggi. But officials said last week that he planned to visit the kingdom this summer. It was just the latest sign that oil has again regained its centrality in geopolitics.

oil prices fell below zero at the start of the pandemic. Big companies like Exxon Mobil, Chevron, BP and Shell have largely stuck to the investment budgets they set last year before Russia invaded Ukraine.

Energy traders have become so convinced that the supply will remain limited that the prices of the U.S. and global oil benchmarks climbed after news broke that Mr. Biden was planning to travel to Saudi Arabia. Oil prices rose to about $120 a barrel on Friday, and the national average price for a gallon of regular gasoline was $4.85 on Sunday, according to AAA, more than 20 cents higher than a week earlier and $1.80 above a year ago.

Another Biden administration effort that has appeared to fall flat is a decision to release a million barrels of oil daily from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve. Analysts said it was hard to discern any impact from those releases.

The Biden team has also been in talks with Venezuela and Iran, but progress has been halting.

The administration recently renewed a license that partly exempts Chevron from U.S. sanctions aimed at crippling the oil industry in Venezuela. In March, three administration officials traveled to Caracas to draw President Nicolás Maduro into negotiations with the political opposition.

In another softening of sanctions, Repsol of Spain and Eni of Italy could begin shipping small amounts of oil from Venezuela to Europe in a few weeks, Reuters reported on Sunday.

Venezuela, once a major exporter to the United States, has the world’s largest petroleum reserves. But its oil industry has been so crippled that it could take months or even years for the country to substantially increase exports.

With Iran, Mr. Biden is seeking to revive a 2015 nuclear accord that President Donald J. Trump pulled out of. A deal could free Iran to export more than 500,000 barrels of oil a day, easing the global supply crunch and making up for some of the barrels that Russia is not selling. Iran also has roughly 100 million barrels in storage, which could potentially be released quickly.

But the nuclear talks appear to be mired in disagreements and are not expected to bear fruit soon.

Of course, any deals with either Venezuela or Iran could themselves become political liabilities for Mr. Biden because most Republicans and even some Democrats oppose compromises with the leaders of those countries.

“No president wants to remove the Revolutionary Guards of Iran from the terrorist list,” Ben Cahill, an energy expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, said about one of the sticking points in the talks with Iran. “Presidents are wary of any moves that look like they are making political sacrifices and handing a win to America’s adversaries.”

Foreign-policy experts say that while energy crises during war are inevitable, they always seem to surprise administrations, which are generally unprepared for the next crisis. Mr. Bordoff, the Obama adviser, suggested that the country invest more in electric cars and trucks and encourage more efficiency and conservation to lower energy demand.

“The history of oil crises shows that when there is a crisis, politicians run around like chickens with their heads cut off, trying to figure out what they can do to provide immediate relief to consumers,” Mr. Bordoff said. U.S. leaders, he added, need to better prepare the country for “the next time there is an inevitable oil crisis.”

View Source

>>> Don’t Miss Today’s BEST Amazon Deals! <<<<

Putin says ‘Thank God’ some foreign companies have left Russia

>>> Don’t Miss Today’s BEST Amazon Deals!<<<<

  • Putin says Russian companies will grow
  • Quips that luxury Mercedes will still be imported
  • Says Russia won’t be cut off from top technologies

LONDON, May 26 (Reuters) – President Vladimir Putin said on Thursday that he was glad some foreign companies had left Russia because home-grown businesses could take their place, and he warned the West that Moscow would still find ways to acquire advanced technology and luxury goods.

Putin has cast the invasion of Ukraine as a turning point in Russian history: a revolt by Moscow against the United States, which he says has humiliated Russia since the 1991 fall of the Soviet Union. Ukraine says it is fighting for its survival.

Besides the death and horror of war, the conflict and the West’s attempt to isolate Russia as punishment have crimped global economic growth and triggered a wave of inflation as the prices of grain, cooking oil, fertiliser and energy soar.

Register now for FREE unlimited access to Reuters.com

Since the war, a host of major foreign investors – ranging from BP (BP.L) to McDonald’s Corp (MCD.N) – have exited just as the Russian economy faces its worst contraction since the years following the turmoil of the Soviet collapse.

“Sometimes when you look at those who leave – thank God, perhaps? We will occupy their niches: our business, our production – it has already grown, and it will safely sit on the ground prepared by our partners,” Putin said.

Speaking by video link to leaders of ex-Soviet states, Putin quipped that luxuries such as the Mercedes favoured by bandits in the chaos of post-Soviet Russia would still be available, though he admitted they might be a little more expensive.

“It will be a little more expensive for them but these are people who already drove Mercedes 600s and they will still do so. I can assure you they will bring them in from wherever, from whichever country.”

Putin said Russia still needed access to the advanced technologies of developed economies.

“We are not going to cut ourselves off from this – they want to squeeze us out a bit, but in the modern world this is simply unrealistic, impossible.”

He did not elaborate on how Russia would find ways to maintain access to western components and software.

Putin promised that Western attempts to isolate Russia would fail, saying developed economies were grappling with an inflationary spiral, broken supply chains and a food crisis just as the centre of global economic power had moved to Asia.

Western sanctions have stoked Russian inflation while snarling supply chains, though Putin said the country is coping well and that Russia is turning away from the West in favour of China, India and other powers.

“Representatives of our businesses face problems, of course, especially in the field of supply chains and transport. But nevertheless, everything can be adjusted, everything can be built in a new way,” Putin said.

“Not without losses at a certain stage, but it helps us in a way to become stronger. In any case, we are definitely acquiring new competencies, we are starting to concentrate our economic, financial and administrative resources on breakthrough areas

Russia’s central bank slashed its key interest rate to 11% on Thursday and said it saw room for more cuts this year, as inflation slows from more than 20-year highs and the economy heads towards a contraction. read more

Russia’s Feb. 24 invasion of Ukraine has killed thousands of people, displaced millions more and raised fears of the most serious confrontation between Russia and the United States since the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis.

Putin says the United States was using Ukraine to threaten Russia through NATO enlargement and Moscow had to defend against the persecution of Russian-speaking people.

Ukraine and its Western allies reject these as baseless pretexts to invade a sovereign country.

Register now for FREE unlimited access to Reuters.com

Reporting by Reuters, Editing by Mark Trevelyan and Hugh Lawson

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

View Source

>>> Don’t Miss Today’s BEST Amazon Deals! <<<<

Shell to stop buying Russian crude oil, issues apology, article with image

>>> Don’t Miss Today’s BEST Amazon Deals!<<<<

  • Shell to stop all spot purchases of Russian crude oil
  • Says it’s sorry it bought Russian crude cargo last week
  • Shell says Russia withdrawal could slow some refinery output

March 8 (Reuters) – Shell (SHEL.L) stopped buying Russian crude on Tuesday and said it would phase out its involvement in all Russian hydrocarbons from oil to natural gas over Ukraine, becoming one of the first major Western oil companies to abandon Russia entirely.

While Russian crude and gas has been exempt so far from Western sanctions, oil soared above $139 a barrel on Monday to its highest since July 2008 as the United States and European allies began to consider banning Russian oil imports.

U.S. lawmakers have called for bans but President Joe Biden’s administration has only sanctioned Russian oil tankers. Britain and Canada have also barred Russian vessels from landing at their ports in protest at Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.

Register now for FREE unlimited access to Reuters.com

Shell apologised on Tuesday for buying Russian oil last week after it had said it would pull out of its Russian operations, including the Sakhalin 2 LNG plant in which it holds a 27.5% stake and which is operated by Gazprom . read more

“We are acutely aware that our decision last week to purchase a cargo of Russian crude oil … was not the right one and we are sorry,” Chief Executive Officer Ben van Beurden said.

A 3D printed natural gas pipeline is placed in front of displayed Shell logo in this illustration taken February 8, 2022. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration/

Shell bought a cargo of Russian crude oil from Swiss trader Trafigura at a record low of dated Brent minus $28.50 a barrel, traders said on Friday. read more

British rival BP said last month it was abandoning its 19.75% stake in Russian oil giant Rosneft (ROSN.MM) in an abrupt move that could cost it up to $25 billion. read more

TotalEnergies (TTEF.PA) Chief Executive Patrick Pouyanne said on Monday that the French company had stopped buying oil from Russia, although one its landlocked refineries in Germany continued to receive Russian crude by pipeline. read more

Shell said it would change its crude oil supply chain to remove volumes from Russia “as fast as possible” and shut its service stations in Russia, as well as its aviation fuels and lubricants operations in the country.

The company said the supply chain change could take weeks to complete and would lead to reduced output from some of its refineries while its withdrawal from Russian petroleum products, pipeline gas and liquefied natural gas (LNG) would be phased.

The company also plans to end its involvement in the Nord Stream 2 Baltic gas pipeline linking Russia to Germany, which it helped finance as a part of a consortium.

Register now for FREE unlimited access to Reuters.com

Reporting by Yadarisa Shabong in Bengaluru; Additional reporting by Ahmad Ghaddar in London. Editing by Shinjini Ganguli, Louise Heavens and David Clarke

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

View Source

>>> Don’t Miss Today’s BEST Amazon Deals! <<<<

Live Updates: Ukraine Agrees to Talks with Russia, as Putin Places Nuclear Forces on Alert

The British oil giant BP said on Sunday that it would “exit” its nearly 20 percent stake in Rosneft, the Russian state-controlled oil company. BP also said that both its chief executive, Bernard Looney, and his predecessor, Bob Dudley, would resign their seats on the Rosneft board.

BP, which is based in London, has worked in Russia for over 30 years, but the invasion of Ukraine “represents a fundamental change,” the company’s chairman, Helge Lund, said in a statement on Sunday. “It has led the BP board to conclude, after a thorough process, that our involvement with Rosneft, a state-owned enterprise, simply cannot continue.”

BP came under pressure in recent days from both the British government and opposition lawmakers over the Rosneft stake. Prime Minister Boris Johnson has taken a hard line against the Russian invasion ordered by President Vladimir V. Putin, arguing strongly that Europe needs to rapidly reduce its dependence on imports of natural gas from Russia.

In these circumstances, BP’s large holding in Rosneft looked increasingly untenable. The government’s concerns were expressed during a video call between Mr. Looney and the business secretary, Kwasi Kwarteng, on Friday afternoon. A BP spokesman, David Nicholas, said the decision was made by the BP board “after careful and due consideration.”

Mr. Kwarteng praised the decision on Sunday. “Russia’s unprovoked invasion of Ukraine must be a wake up call for British businesses with commercial interests in Putin’s Russia,” he said on Twitter.

It was not clear how BP would accomplish its exit from Rosneft. A BP spokesman said the company would begin to dispose of its stake, valued by BP at $14 billion at the end of last year, but did not yet know how it would accomplish that. Rosneft shares have plummeted in recent days, and the only buyers might be Russian state entities. The opportunity to buy a substantial slice of one of the world’s largest oil producers might also appeal to other state-owned companies like those from China willing to bargain-shop in Russia.

BP, in exiting Rosneft, might draw protests from investors over the resulting loss of dividends from the Russian stake as well as market value. On the other hand, some analysts welcomed BP’s move.

“While we’re surprised it happened so quickly, equity investors will now benefit from removal of Russian news flow volatility and much stronger” environmental credentials at BP, said Oswald Clint, an analyst at Bernstein, a research firm.

The board resignations will lead to accounting changes at BP. The company will no longer book its share of Rosneft’s profits ($2.7 billion last year) and reserves (about 55 percent of BP’s holdings) as well as production (about one-third).

BP received $600 million in dividends from Rosneft last year, and would have been expected to receive more this year because of higher oil prices.

BP also said it would write off at least $11 billion in the first quarter of 2022, but potentially much more, related to the Rosneft holding.

While BP is the Western oil company with the most to lose in Russia, it will remain a relatively large player that under Mr. Looney has been aggressively investing in offshore wind and other clean energy businesses, although these remain small compared with oil and gas at the company.

Moving away from Rosneft fits with this new tack. Biraj Borkhataria, an analyst at RBC Capital Markets, said “the Rosneft stake is out of sync with BP’s longer-term strategic direction,” even though “walking away at this time is obviously not ideal from a shareholder value perspective.”

BP’s exit from Rosneft, once accomplished, will draw at least a temporary line on BP’s long experiment with Russia, which began early this century with the company investing $8 billion in a joint venture called TNK-BP with a group of Russian oligarchs headed by Mikhail Fridman.

After a decade of stormy relations among the partners, BP sold its share in the joint venture to Rosneft in 2013 for $12.5 billion in cash plus the 19.75 percent stake Rosneft.

Other large Western oil companies may also feel a chill over continued operating in Russia. TotalEnergies, the French giant, has a stake in Novatek, a Russian gas producer, and a share in a large liquefied natural gas facility in the Russian Arctic. Shell has a modest shareholding in an L.N.G. facility on Sakhalin Island in the Russian Far East, where Exxon Mobil has been producing oil for a quarter of a century in a joint venture with Rosneft.

Analysts say that Russian operations have already lost relative importance in the portfolios of the Western oil industry. Russia may have vast troves of oil and gas, but the appetite for investing there has been curbed by the combination of climate change concerns and sanctions imposed on the Russian industry over Mr. Putin’s annexation of Crimea in 2014.

Surging oil and gas prices and resulting higher profits may also help paper over whatever earnings hit the companies take in Russia this year, analysts say.

View Source

>>> Don’t Miss Today’s BEST Amazon Deals! <<<<

What’s at Stake for the Global Economy as Conflict Looms in Ukraine

After getting battered by the pandemic, supply chain chokeholds and leaps in prices, the global economy is poised to be sent on yet another unpredictable course by an armed clash on Europe’s border.

Even before the Kremlin ordered Russian troops into separatist territories of Ukraine on Monday, the tension had taken a toll. The promise of punishing sanctions in return by President Biden and the potential for Russian retaliation had already pushed down stock returns and driven up gas prices.

An outright attack by Russian troops could cause dizzying spikes in energy and food prices, fuel inflation fears and spook investors, a combination that threatens investment and growth in economies around the world.

However harsh the effects, the immediate impact will be nowhere near as devastating as the sudden economic shutdowns first caused by the coronavirus in 2020. Russia is a transcontinental behemoth with 146 million people and a huge nuclear arsenal, as well as a key supplier of the oil, gas and raw materials that keep the world’s factories running. But unlike China, which is a manufacturing powerhouse and intimately woven into intricate supply chains, Russia is a minor player in the global economy.

spikes in heating and gas bills, which are already soaring. Natural gas reserves are at less than a third of capacity, with weeks of cold weather ahead, and European leaders have already accused Russia’s president, Vladimir V. Putin, of reducing supplies to gain a political edge.

United Nations report. Russia is the world’s largest supplier of wheat, and together with Ukraine, accounts for nearly a quarter of total global exports. For some countries, the dependence is much greater. That flow of grain makes up more than 70 percent of Egypt and Turkey’s total wheat imports.

This will put further strain on Turkey, which is already in the middle of an economic crisis and struggling with inflation that is running close to 50 percent, with skyrocketing food, fuel and electricity prices.

And as usual, the burden falls heaviest on the most vulnerable. “Poorer people spend a higher share of incomes on food and heating,” said Ian Goldin, a professor of globalization and development at Oxford University.

Ukraine, long known as the “breadbasket of Europe,” actually sends more than 40 percent of its wheat and corn exports to the Middle East or Africa, where there are worries that further food shortages and price increases could stoke social unrest.

Lebanon, for example, which is experiencing one of the most devastating economic crises in more than a century, gets more than half of its wheat from Ukraine, which is also the world’s largest exporter of seed oils like sunflower and rapeseed.

On Monday, the White House responded to Mr. Putin’s decision to recognize the independence of two Russian-backed territories in the country’s east by saying it would begin imposing limited sanctions on the so-called Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics. Jen Psaki, the White House press secretary, said Mr. Biden would soon issue an executive order prohibiting investment, trade and financing with people in those regions.

range of scenarios from mild to severe. The fallout on working-class families and Wall Street traders depends on how an invasion plays out: whether Russian troops stay near the border or attack the Ukrainian capital, Kyiv; whether the fighting lasts for days or months; what kind of Western sanctions are imposed; and whether Mr. Putin responds by withholding critical gas supplies from Europe or launching insidious cyberattacks.

“Think about it rolling out in stages,” said Julia Friedlander, director of the economic statecraft initiative at the Atlantic Council. “This is likely to play out as a slow motion drama.”

As became clear from the pandemic, minor interruptions in one region can generate major disruptions far away. Isolated shortages and price surges— whether of gas, wheat, aluminum or nickel — can snowball in a world still struggling to recover from the pandemic.

“You have to look at the backdrop against which this is coming,” said Gregory Daco, chief economist for EY-Parthenon. “There is high inflation, strained supply chains and uncertainty about what central banks are going to do and how insistent price rises are.”

at 7.5 percent in January, and is expected to start raising interest rates next month. Higher energy prices set off by a conflict in Europe may be transitory but they could feed worries about a wage-price spiral.

“We could see a new burst of inflation,” said Christopher Miller, a visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute and an assistant professor at Tufts University.

Also fueling inflation fears are possible shortages of essential metals like palladium, aluminum and nickel, creating another disruption to global supply chains already suffering from the pandemic, trucker blockades in Canada and shortages of semiconductors.

The price of palladium, for example, used in automotive exhaust systems, mobile phones and even dental fillings, has soared in recent weeks because of fears that Russia, the world’s largest exporter of the metal, could be cut off from global markets. The price of nickel, used to make steel and electric car batteries, has also been jumping.

It’s too early to gauge the precise impact of an armed conflict, said Lars Stenqvist, the chief technology officer of Volvo, the Swedish truck maker. But he added, “It is a very, very serious thing.”

“We have a number of scenarios on the table and we are following the developments of the situation day by day,” Mr. Stenqvist said Monday.

The West has taken steps to blunt the impact on Europe if Mr. Putin decides to retaliate. The United States has ramped up delivery of liquefied natural gas and asked other suppliers like Qatar to do the same.

negotiations to revive a deal to curb Iran’s nuclear program. Iran, which is estimated to have as many as 80 million barrels of oil in storage, has been locked out of much of the world’s markets since 2018, when President Donald J. Trump withdrew from the nuclear accord and reimposed sanctions.

Some of the sanctions against Russia that the Biden administration is considering, such as cutting off access to the system of international payments known as SWIFT or blocking companies from selling anything to Russia that contains American-made components, would hurt anyone who does business with Russia. But across the board, the United States is much less vulnerable than the European Union, which is Russia’s largest trading partner.

Americans, as Mr. Biden has already warned, are likely to see higher gasoline prices. But because the United States is itself a large producer of natural gas, those price increases are not nearly as steep and as broad as elsewhere. And Europe has many more links to Russia and engages in more financial transactions — including paying for the Russian gas.

Oil companies like Shell and Total have joint ventures in Russia, while BP boasts that it “is one of the biggest foreign investors in Russia,” with ties to the Russian oil company Rosneft. Airbus, the European aviation giant, gets titanium from Russia. And European banks, particularly those in Germany, France and Italy, have lent billions of dollars to Russian borrowers.

“Severe sanctions that hurt Russia painfully and comprehensively have potential to do huge damage to European customers,” said Adam Tooze, director of the European Institute at Columbia University.

Depending on what happens, the most significant effects on the global economy may manifest themselves only over the long run.

economic ties to China. The two nations recently negotiated a 30-year contract for Russia to supply gas to China through a new pipeline.

“Russia is likely to pivot all energy and commodity exports to China,” said Carl Weinberg, chief economist at High Frequency Economics.

The crisis is also contributing to a reassessment of the global economy’s structure and concerns about self-sufficiency. The pandemic has already highlighted the downsides of far-flung supply chains that rely on lean production.

Now Europe’s dependence on Russian gas is spurring discussions about expanding energy sources, which could further sideline Russia’s presence in the global economy.

“In the longer term, it’s going to push Europe to diversify,” said Jeffrey Schott, a senior fellow working on international trade policy at the Peterson Institute for International Economics. As for Russia, the real cost “would be corrosive over time and really making it much more difficult to do business with Russian entities and deterring investment.”

View Source

>>> Don’t Miss Today’s BEST Amazon Deals! <<<<

High Gas Prices Force Sacrifices, Like Travel and Dining Out

A driver in Belleville, N.J., cut his cable and downsized his apartment to save money for gas. A retiree in Vallejo, Calif., said he had stopped driving to go fishing because the miles cost too much in fuel. An auto repairman in Toms River, N.J., doesn’t go to restaurants as often. And an Uber Eats deliveryman said he couldn’t afford frequent visits to his family and friends, some of whom live 60 miles away.

“Times are tough right now,” Chris Gonzalez, 31, the Uber Eats driver, said as he filled up his tank at a Safeway gas station off Interstate 80 in California.

Millions of American drivers have acutely felt the recent surge in gas prices, which last month hit their highest level since 2014. The national average for a gallon of gas is $3.41, which is $1.29 more than it was a year ago, according to AAA. Even after a recent price dip in crude oil, gasoline remains 7 cents more per gallon than it was a month ago.

While consumers are seeing a steady rise in the prices of many goods and services, the cost of gas is especially visible. It is displayed along highways across the country, including in areas where a gallon has climbed as high as $7.59.

survey from the fuel savings platform GasBuddy.

instructed the Federal Trade Commission this week to investigate why prices at the pump haven’t declined as much as might be expected, citing the possibility of “illegal conduct” by oil and gas companies. The administration is also facing calls from Congress to tap the country’s Strategic Petroleum Reserve, which the Senate majority leader, Chuck Schumer, said would help struggling Americans.

Gas prices have gone up in part because of fluctuations in supply and demand. Demand for oil fell precipitously in the early months of the pandemic, so the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries and other oil-producing nations cut production. In the United States, reduced demand led to a substantial decline in drilling; the country’s oil rig count was down nearly 70 percent in summer 2020.

But over the past year, demand for oil recovered far faster than OPEC restored its production, and crude oil prices doubled to as much as $84 a barrel. (Since Nov. 9, the price has declined to just over $76.)

higher in the past; in 2008, the national average rose above $4.10 per gallon. (Adjusted for inflation, that would be equivalent to $5.16 today.) They’re optimistic that the increase in travel and gas demand is a reflection of the economy’s rebound from the pandemic, though they worry that rising prices could make people cut back on other spending.

“If gas prices rise so much that it affects consumers’ disposable incomes, this would weigh on discretionary spending,” said Fawad Razaqzada, a market analyst at ThinkMarkets. “It would be bad news for retailers.”

In California, where the average price of a gallon is the highest in the nation, at more than $4.60, drivers said they were changing their behavior. Some sought out cheaper spots, like Costco and Safeway gas stations, to save a few dollars.

At an Arco station in San Francisco’s NoPa neighborhood, a line of cars extended into the crowded street on Thursday. Some drivers searched for change. Others grumbled about the prices, which have shot up to as much as $4.49 at the Arco — known locally for its normally cheap rates — and up to $5.85 in the most expensive part of the city.

Keith Crawford, 57, who was filling up his Kia Optima, said he had taken to getting smaller amounts of gas twice a week to soften the blow to his bank account.

“You have to spread it out in order to stay afloat,” said Mr. Crawford, a concierge. “It’s part of the budget now.”

Thirty miles northeast of San Francisco in Vallejo, drivers lined up at the Safeway gas station off I-80, where the price was $4.83 per gallon. Several put the blame for their bills on the Biden administration.

“It’s Biden, Gavin Newsom — look at the gas taxes we pay,” said Kevin Altman, a 54-year-old retiree, referring to California’s governor.

Mr. Altman paid $50 to fill up his Jeep and estimated the gas would last him just two days. He said he had stopped driving to go fishing in nearby Benicia to avoid using too much gas, and would do all his Christmas shopping online this year.

The cost can be especially challenging for people who own businesses that depend on transit. Mahmut Sonmez, 33, who runs a car service, spends nearly $800 on gas out of the $2,500 he earns each week driving people around New Jersey. To save money, he moved in September into a Belleville apartment that is $400 cheaper than his previous home. He also cut his cable service and changed cellphone plans.

If gas prices keep rising, Mr. Sonmez said, he will consider changing jobs after nine years in the industry. “Somehow we’ve got to pay the rent,” he said.

In New Jersey, which bans self-service gas, some drivers are directing their ire toward station attendants.

“Every day they’re cursing me out,” said Gaby Marmol, 25, the assistant manager of a BP station in Newark, adding that when she sees how much the customers spend on both gas and convenience store items — $1.19 for ring pops that used to be 50 cents — she feels sympathetic. “We’re just doing our jobs, but they think we set the prices.”

Cheik Diakite, 62, an attendant at a Mobil station in Newark, doesn’t get as many tips as he did before the pandemic, he said, and grows frustrated listening to customers attribute the high prices to Mr. Biden.

Mr. Diakite typically passes afternoons by looking out for his most loyal customers. Bebi Amzad, who works at a nearby school, always has the same request for him: “Fill it up.” But when she pulled in on Thursday, she asked him to give her just $30 worth of gas.

“Today I’m not filling up all the way because I have other expenses,” said Ms. Amzad, 54, who commutes to Newark from Linden, N.J. “Everybody is hurting.”

Because she spends so much on gas and groceries, Ms. Amzad continued, she can’t afford many indulgences. “I don’t go to Marshalls anymore.”

Clifford Krauss contributed reporting.

View Source

>>> Don’t Miss Today’s BEST Amazon Deals! <<<<

Once a Leading Polluter, the U.K. Is Now Trying to Lead on Climate Change

LONDON — As Britain prepares to host a landmark climate summit in Glasgow this week, the milestones of its own evolution to a more climate-friendly economy are on vivid display along the railroad line from London to Scotland.

Near Gainsborough, a river town 150 miles north of the capital, one of Britain’s last coal-fired power plants still spews carbon dioxide and other gases into the air. Another 150 miles north, off the coast of the seaside port of Blyth, the slender blades of five turbines in an offshore wind farm turn lazily in the breeze.

The two plants, both owned by the French utility giant EDF, illustrate how far Britain has come. The coal station, restarted recently to cover a shortfall in electricity, is slated to be taken out of operation next year, while the company plans to install experimental floating turbines in the waters off Blyth.

“We’re talking about a huge transition,” said Paul Spence, the director of strategy and corporate affairs at EDF, referring to Britain’s goal of being a carbon-neutral economy by 2050. “A lot of things need to happen to keep the lights on.”

climate meeting, known as COP26, it has a credible claim to being a global leader in climate policy. The birthplace of the Industrial Revolution, Britain became the first country to legally mandate reductions in greenhouse-gas emissions through the Climate Change Act in 2008. Its high-tech windmills and superannuated smokestacks are only the most visible evidence of a three-decade campaign.

Having built the world’s largest offshore wind industry, Britain has reduced emissions by 44 percent from 1990 levels. Its target to cut them by at least 68 percent by 2030 is one of the most ambitious of any major economy, according to the Climate Action Tracker, a scientific analysis of the policies of countries.

If Britain achieves that target, which is far from clear, it would be one of a handful of countries doing enough to fulfill the key goal of the Paris Agreement: limiting the long-term rise in the planet’s temperatures to 1.5 degrees Celsius.

showdown with striking coal miners in 1984. By crushing the union and slashing subsidies for the coal industry, Mrs. Thatcher accelerated Britain’s search for alternative energy sources, namely natural gas.

“She got rid of the coal miners for a combination of political and economic reasons,” said Tom Burke, the chairman of E3G, an environmental think tank, and a former government adviser. “But it gave the U.K. a degree of freedom of action that wasn’t available to other countries.”

she said to the United Nations.

Mrs. Thatcher planted the seed for a bipartisan cause, as Conservative and Labour governments sought to burnish their green credentials. British diplomats played key roles in brokering climate deals in Rio de Janeiro and Kyoto, Japan. Britain installed climate attachés in its embassies around the world.

In 2006, a British government adviser, Nicholas Stern, produced a seminal study of the economic effects of climate change, which framed the debate before the 2009 summit in Copenhagen and set the stage for the Climate Act, passed under a Labour prime minister, Gordon Brown.

When the Conservatives came to power in 2010, they viewed climate policy as a way to appeal to younger voters, many of whom viewed the Tories as a tightfisted party in thrall to business interests. Parliament created a climate change committee, which prodded the government to adopt policies that would help Britain meet its goals. Several of its policies were mimicked by fellow European Union members. “We basically ran the E.U. on climate policy,” Mr. Burke said.

Then came the Brexit vote in 2016, and “we lost our most important tool for influencing other countries, which was the E.U,” he said.

Mr. Johnson, who once scoffed that wind farms would “barely pull the skin off a rice pudding,” now speaks about climate change with the zeal of the converted. Allies say he has been convinced of the need for action by his third wife, Carrie Johnson, who campaigns against plastic pollution.

But critics say Mr. Johnson’s bracing words are belied by his actions. The Climate Action Tracker, while praising Britain’s ambitions, criticized its financial commitment to achieving them, calling it “highly insufficient.”

“It’s accurate to say that this is a betrayal of a national commitment by the current government,” Mr. Burke said.

Mr. Johnson’s pro-Brexit government, he said, depends on support from the libertarian wing of the Tory party, which opposes far-reaching climate initiatives, while his anti-business messaging hinders partnerships with the private sector.

For private companies, the government’s messaging has been muddled. EDF said it would like to build more onshore wind farms, but local resistance and lack of incentives has made it less attractive. And the government has struggled to line up financing for a new generation of nuclear plants.

“We’re only a quarter of the way toward the decarbonized energy system that the prime minister set as a goal for 2035,” said Mr. Spence, of EDF. “We need all the answers, faster than we’ve ever done them before, if we’re going to get anywhere close to a 1.5-degree world.”

For all of Britain’s agenda-setting, there is also a sense among activists and experts that there is only so much a midsize country can do to solve a planetary problem. Its total emissions account for barely 1 percent of the world’s total. China accounts for nearly 30 percent, and the United States for 14 percent.

“Imagine if these policies had been picked up in 1997 by the United States,” said David King, a former climate envoy and scientific adviser to Prime Minister Tony Blair. “The world would be a very different place.”

View Source

>>> Don’t Miss Today’s BEST Amazon Deals! <<<<